David Griffin said it best in his 2021 closing press conference. The New Orleans Pelicans need tough minded players who can score the basketball and with the No. 10 pick, the Pelicans will have plenty of options to go that route.
Arkansas' Moses Moody and Gonzaga's Corey Kispert are just a few names who have popped up in recent mock drafts and speculation for New Orleans in next month's NBA draft. But one name that hasn't been mentioned is LSU's Cam Thomas.
The 6-foot-4 guard led the SEC in scoring as a freshman and proved to be one of the best three level scorers in all of college basketball. Thomas is not one for many words as he just lets his playing speak for him. In his lone season with the program, he was a first team All-SEC and All-Freshman selection while also being named an Honorable All-American by the AP.
He averaged 23 points per game in 2021, saving some of his best basketball for the postseason by scoring 27 against St. Bonaventure in the opening round and 30 against Michigan in the Round of 32. There's no denying that Thomas was a volume scorer with the Tigers but his consistency in which he got to the rim and was able to draw fouls and convert at an 88% clip on the year.
There's plenty of room for improvement as he didn't prove to be much of a playmaker in his lone college season and wasn't a very impactful defender as well. Thomas will need to develop in one of those key areas to potentially earn a role in a starting lineup but his scoring knack will help an NBA team off the bench right from the get-go.
The Pelicans are in desperate need of shooting to surround Zion Williamson and Thomas would certainly fit the bill. At No. 10, selecting Thomas would be a bit of a reach but if New Orleans were to trade back further in the first round, he could be a solid option in the 15-20 range, where he's currently projected to fall.
Another reason that might steer the Pelicans away is youth and the learning curve Thomas will likely face in the NBA during his first few years. New Orleans must capitalize and be a legitimate playoff team this time a year from now and taking on a player like Thomas could turn out to be another long term project.
It's uncertain what the Pelicans plan to do with the pick as they could just as easily trade it away and package it for a veteran piece that can help the team win next year. But if trading back is an option, giving Thomas a long look could benefit the Pelicans offense that needs a scoring punch.